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31 March 2012

Forrest Gump (1994)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise

Genre: Drama, Romance
Colour, 142 Minutes

“Stupid is as stupid does” This film has been long due on my watch list, and I have owned the blu-ray copy since June 2011. I have watched parts of this film in my childhood, but never in one solid viewing. As a film buff, I can now happily say that Forrest Gump is a film that is in the moment as it captures the exciting and curious story of one man who gets himself in extraordinary situations throughout his life. With excellent direction and award winning (and deserving) performances, it is a must-see film.

The plot can be summed up in one sentence: A film about a simple-minded man through his curious life up to fatherhood.

In terms of cinematography, the film was shot beautifully. As mentioned, the opening shot was terrific and throughout the film, we have elegant, busy and splendorous shots of ocean’s cities and crowds. One scene has Gump about to make his speech in the 60’s were we see thousands of the young hipsters of the day standing: Clearly a shot that required a lot of assembly.

Robert Zemeckis most will know for Back to the Future, certainly shows his talented directing skills here as he tells the story beautifully. To begin with, the way the narrative has been structured is fantastic. We open with the highly memorable scene of Gump sitting at a park bench waiting on a bus as he tells those sitting next to him his life story, which we see through flashbacks and voice-overs. It seems pointless at first, but if the film was not told in this way, I think it would lose its charm and lose what it is known for, making it fall flat and unentertaining. The narrative structure here definitely works effectively and Zemeckis tells the tale fantastically.

The exciting thing about the film is the things that Gump encounters through the parts of his life we see. Many consider the film just to be a mash up of history and sentimentality to make a film, but it is much more than that. Times certainly do change as Forrest moves along through the years maintaining his innocence and the things he gets himself into are what make the film progress; Especially the Vietnam War.

Another aspect of the film I loved was the cinematography and great camerawork and effects. The opening shot is an excellent transition as it ends with the very same feather suggesting to us that Gump’s journey is now over, but his son’s has just begun. If that is not good filmmaking then I do not know what is. There have been other interpretations of the feather featured in the opening and ending, including one stating the white feather represents the lightness of being. 
Anyway, enough babbling; the visual effects that we see in the film were gracious, and I mainly speak of the Vietnam War shots. One shot see Hanks running out of the forest with his friend Bubba in his arms as we see the explosions from behind, which is a glorious shot indeed. Some scenes included real footage of Forrest meeting presidents and even John Lennon, were they have masked Tom Hanks into the scenes, which is quite impressive for 1994.

I certainly cannot go without talking about the book in which the film was adapted. Although I have not read it, it is important to note were the concept originated. Screenwriter Eric Roth brought the book wonderfully to the screen. I give a salute to the author of the book, as simply with no book, there would be no film.

Nowadays, the film gets a lot of mixed criticism with many critics calling it mushy and undeserving of what it won, but I find it hard not to like this wonderful story filled with character study and sentiment. The film as many know won 6 academy awards, and for a year that had four extremely successful films being Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Lion King and The Shawshank Redemption (though Shawshank suffered at the box office). Ed Wood was also released that year and although did not get much box office attention it is a great film. It seems to me 1994 was one of the best years for cinema. Some feel that the film is too mushy and that it relies simply on historical events. This I must disagree with, as despite being a little overly sentimental, the story is an excellent character study of one man’s journey through historical ages, showing the evolution of our modern day world.

The interesting thing to note is the romance of the story. As Forrest progresses through the film, he is still the friendly simpleton who maintains his look and style whereas Jenny, his love interest changes as the world changed. In the 60’s she becomes a peace monger, in the 70’s she appears as somewhat of a punk. When she gets to the films present, 80’s she is a waitress who now has a child. The love relationship between the two I will admit was quite messy as Jenny fades in and out of Forrest’s life, but it is interesting to see how Forrest, no matter what, has been faithful to her.

The character of Forrest Gump is one thing that supports this film very strongly. Tom Hanks gives an extremely well dedicated performance that is captivating and touching. Forrest Gump is a character who has the innocence of a child, a low IQ, but has plenty of heart and compassion.

The other characters in the film make things all more graceful and entertaining. Two characters who play a big part are Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) and Lieutenant Daniel (Gary Sinise). Bubba is a character who seems to be quite dumb as is Forrest when he meets him on the bus to the army and it is touching friendship. Another great friendship is with the Lieutenant, who loses his legs. Forrest saves him at Vietnam, though he did not want to be saved. At first, he has a grudge against Forrest, but becomes accepting of his disability and it is truly amazing to see. 

The most important thing is the film does what films are supposed to do. It makes you laugh and it makes you cry, two emotions that can mesh beautifully when executed correctly. The film has some nice moments of humour and emotion that will have some teary eyed.

Verdict: Despite being guilty of over-sentimentality, Forrest Gump is full of charm, and solid characters that make it a special journey of a simple man through the ages.

Rating: 9/10

Extra Information
At RottenTomatoes
Age Certificate: 12a
Country: USA
Language: English


  1. Good review. I liked Forrest Gump quite a bit and I had no problem with it winning the Oscar.

  2. james rodrigues25 April 2012 at 20:14

    Good review. I like Forrest Gump, but I do think Pulp Fiction should've won the Oscars instead. Oh, and check out my spoiler free review of The Cabin in the Woods



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